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My Year Volunteering at The Princess Shop

posted by The Princess Shop    |   December 29, 2018 10:32

Written by Heidi Anderson

I am very grateful for the volunteer position that I was given the opportunity to have over the past year at The Princess Shop. 

In December 2017, I was looking for a consistent volunteer commitment that I could take on that would be of a benefit to my community.  When I first heard about The Princess Shop I was interested in the idea that they are helping women in need and being apart of reducing and reusing grad dresses. Reducing and reusing are two concepts that I try and follow in my personal life. I love art and expression, but I feel like we live in an overly commercialized culture filled with so much stuff.  On further inspection I learned about the rest of the programs – it is so much more than a dress. If a graduate uses The Dress Program they gain access to other programs and attendance at the main events. There is The Dress Program, The Next Chapter Program and The Fairy Godmother Program. The full name of The Princess Shop is The Princess Shop Mentorship and Female Youth Development Inc. The Princess Shop mission is to create an enhanced graduation experience for female-identified students in need, and provide them with mentorship, support, and the tools to pursue success after graduation. 

My first meeting was overwhelming, and it took awhile to understand everything that The Princess Shop does, what was expected of me, and how the organization is run.  It takes a lot for this organization to run effectively. Thankfully, the rest of the volunteers and Karen Robson the executive director were patient and understanding. They were also able to adapt with me as I went through some life changes like a work scheduling change. I felt supported by these women and that they wanted what was best for me. This was a refreshing change as in many avenues in my life I have felt a sense of rivalry from my female peers.  I felt as if my volunteer contributions were appreciated! As women we should be all be trying to encourage one another and build each other’s self esteem. Empowered women empower women.

I took on the position of the Fairy Godmother Program Coordinator. I felt this was the right fit for me as I have an interest in and a background in education.  The Fairy Godmother Program is a mentorship program and it was sponsored by TD. An interested princess graduate is partnered up with a woman in the community that wants to be a mentor to a princess graduate. All the participants were interviewed and matched into pairs. These women keep in touch throughout each month. They are also expected to attend monthly activities that are put on from September to March. This season we have had a lawn games activity, a pumpkin painting activity, a skin care workshop with local business Green Tree Beauty, and a holiday party so far.

 

It was great to see the connections made!  Mentorship is a learning opportunity for the mentee and the mentor. Even though attendance was a struggle at times for the participants, it didn’t take away from the value of the program. It was clear that it was making a difference for the people who were apart of it. Having the program as an option available for those that want to utilize it, is a value in and of its self. Having someone that supports you and is your cheer leader in life is so important for your personal growth. Imagine never having that and then getting the opportunity to have that!  I love that each season past matches can continue to be apart of the program. My wish for the Fairy Godmother Program is that it grows. If you want to be a role model in a princess graduate’s life, please apply to be a Fairy Godmother as The Princess Shop will be seeking new fairy godmothers to join the program next season. 

The Dress Program

Being at dress choosing appointments, it is interesting to see all the sorts of people that use The Dress Program and what their style preferences are. The participants are encouraged to choose something that interests them. At The Princess Shop there is so many styles of dresses, shoes and accessories to choose from and you are encouraged to be you. I really liked complimenting the ladies when they found a dress and seeing how appreciative they were for the experience. My favorite comment from a graduate when choosing a dress and accessories was, “I feel like Beyonce.” 

 Graduation Days

On the graduation day it is a very busy and exciting time! The graduates can have their hair and makeup done and get professional photos taken.  Seeing the graduates light up is very rewarding for all involved. My favorite moment on a grad day was watching an elderly lady who was about to graduate and she brought her son with her.  She explained that over the years she wasn’t often able to make herself a priority and was very nervous for graduation. As she was done up and went to pictures, you could see the confidence in herself build. 

The Perfectly Pink Appreciation BBQ

The BBQ is a great time to gather with all the princess shop participants, their families and supporting community members. We had such a great turn out this year and almost all the food was eaten! There was even a bouncy castle for the children.  During the BBQ the recipients of the scholarships from the next chapter program were announced! This BBQ has been sponsored by a Fairy Godmother Kari Calder of Kari Calder Realty for a very long time which provides the opportunity for Princess Graduates and their families to attend at no cost.

The Next Chapter Program

The Next Chapter Program is The Princess Shop’s scholarship program. What I really appreciate about the Next Chapter Program is that it doesn’t matter how many years ago you utilized the dress program, you are still able to apply for the scholarships! If The Princess Shop exists, a past Dress Program participant is able to apply to those scholarships. There are so many great scholarship opportunities and learning workshops offered through the program. At the Glass Slipper Benefit this year a scholarship opportunity was bid on and $9,300 was raised! 

The Glass Slipper Benefit for Princesses presented by K+S Potash Canada

The Glass Slipper Benefit is the largest fundraiser event put on by The Princess Shop. Lots of work is put into this event and planning begins very early on every year. Sponsors and silent auction items are gathered from all around our community. It is very inspiring listening to the speeches given at the gala by past princess graduates explaining how the princess shop has impacted their life.  

If you are interested in going to the Glass Slipper Benefit, it is best to get your ticket early as it saves you money.

There are many fundraising events that are put on all year round by The Princess Shop like the upcoming cupcake contest held on January 29th of this year during the Nutrien WinterShines Festival. The Cupcake Contest is where bakers compete by creating a cupcake modeled off a dress from The Princess Shop and guests get to judge and decide what cupcake was their favorite. It’s only $10 to attend and sample all of the cupcakes.  The Princess Shop is always interested in different creative fundraising ideas, so they can continue to have the funds to run. 

Unfortunately, I cannot continue as the Fairy Godmother Coordinator as I will be moving out of the city and have travel plans in 2019. I will however continue to show support in the ways that I can. The Princess Shop is always seeking help in many ways from small to large commitments. Please reach out and contact them if you want to contribute in any way. 

I am approaching ten years since I graduated high school. At that time, I really did not see that much significance on the day of graduation. I viewed it in many ways just like any other day and that graduating high school wasn’t that big of a deal. As I have lived my life for the past ten years and reflected, I have seen the value in celebrating positive moments and successes in life. Life is simply too short not to celebrate.  

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#GivingTuesday Can Be Everyday!

posted by The Princess Shop    |   November 27, 2018 13:19

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, we would like to thank everyone who gives to The Princess Shop throughout the entire year, whether that is a dress, sponsorship, cash donation, office supplies, volunteer time, word-of-mouth recommendations, or even by engaging with our social media. It all makes a positive impact. Please get in touch if you'd like to contribute in your very own way.

We are proud to have grown BEYOND the dress and graduation day to so much more. We address needs in the community for further success and pursuit of goals through mentorship, scholarships, housing, financial literacy, work readiness, and wellness literacy. We wouldn't have got here without your support.

Thank you!

5 Benefits to Volunteering at The Princess Shop

posted by The Princess Shop    |   August 29, 2018 16:30

Volunteering at The Princess Shop provides so many life-changing opportunities for individuals – and we aren’t just talking about the 1,000+ at-risk women we have impacted on graduation day and beyond with our additional programming offering mentorship or scholarships… but the volunteers!

At The Princess Shop, our volunteers aren’t here to just do menial tasks (okay, about twice a year they will stuff envelopes), they are here to create the impact. This comes in many forms throughout the seasons of a year, but where it is truly special is through the opportunity to not just be a part of the impact, but create the impact through building opportunities, solving problems, an generating new ideas and goals.

There are so many benefits to volunteering at The Princess Shop, but here are a few key highlights:

1-Positive Team Culture – this is our secret weapon. We are all in this together to create the impact. Everyone’s ideas are welcomed to the table. In addition, this means no one is ever alone. We work as a team to complete tasks and keep the momentum moving forward.

2-Empower – through our positive team culture, volunteers at The Princess Shop become empowered to bring ideas to the table that will change lives. For example, Jasmine, our Next Chapter Program Coordinator, thought of the idea for a housing scholarship to assist with living costs for a Princess Graduate attending post-secondary schooling. The result? A full year free rent with Boardwalk. This idea emerged in autumn of 2017, and our first recipient of this scholarship got the keys to her new home August 2018.

3-Creativity – as a small nonprofit organization, we have the power to make our decisions to best suit the organization. This means we get to exercise our creativity skillsets when it comes to problem solving and idea generation.

4-Learning – interpersonal and professional skills are a major takeaway for volunteer team members. Part of this comes from confidence built through our positive team culture and putting into practice skills that make real-life results.

5-Fulfillment – again, being a direct impact on the lives of at-risk students as they prepare for graduation, post-secondary, career, and life goals, comes with direct fulfillment. We are so proud of our Princess Graduates when they reach that graduation day milestone, get accepted into post-secondary, or get a great job. We help motivate them at their dress appointments by sharing with them all of the opportunities to continue to be a part of The Princess Shop community.

Interested in joining us yet?  Visit this page to check out our amazing volunteer opportunities.

7 Reflections on Being a Real-Life Fairy Godmother...

posted by The Princess Shop    |   June 18, 2018 16:00

As we come to the peak of our 2018 graduation season and look forward to supporting our graduates in their next transitions through scholarship support and mentorship, we decided it would be important to hear from one of our Fairy Godmothers to share her experiences as a mentor in the Fairy Godmother Program.

Kayla Brien has a rich history with The Princess Shop. Starting with helping out for the Glass Slipper Benefit, to coordinating the Fairy Godmother Program, to becoming a Fairy Godmother and Board Member...

1)      What made you want to become a Fairy Godmother (mentor)?

Effective mentorship relationships enrich both people. Personally I wanted to dedicate time to getting to know a Princess Graduate, becoming a friend she could trust and to support her in her achieving her goals after graduation. On the flip side, I was also very excited about the prospect of having my eyes opened to new experiences and to learn new things from someone I may have never had the opportunity to engage with. 

2)      Why do you think it is important to mentor women at this stage of their life?

I have been very fortunate to have a strong network of support through the critical time in my life following graduation. This has played a large role in my personal growth knowing that I have champions in my corner ready to encourage me and help me navigate through the obstacles and roadblocks that show up in life. Every woman deserves that same level of support and encouragement, and I was excited about the idea of being able to provide that for a young woman.

3)      What surprised you throughout your experiences being a mentor?

After I hang out with Zoya, I always feel very inspired and uplifted. Although she has endured struggles in her life, she is always upbeat and positive and sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She has changed my outlook on life in a very positive and transformative way.

4)      What are a few key things you've learned by being a mentor?

Listening is so important. When you are actively listening you are establishing trust and respect in the relationship. Being present and engaged in your conversations allows for a person to feel truly heard and that they are valued. 

Have fun! Discover activities you like to do together and try new things! As important as it is to provide solid advice and guidance to a young woman, it is equally as important to share in positive experiences together. 

5)      What do you love most about your mentee?

I feel so fortunate for the friendship that has developed between Zoya and I. I have had the opportunity to participate in some of the most precious milestones of her life since I have met her; I attended her families citizenship ceremony, watched her cross the stage as a university graduate and grow from a shy, soft spoken young lady, to a confident, driven and fierce young women. I love that I have been able to witness this growth and to be part of her journey.

6)      Mentorship is a two-way street, so what benefits have you seen for yourself?

Mentoring allows you to bring out and develop key strengths in each other. I have had the opportunity to support and encourage my Princess Graduate to help her achieve her goals. However, in return, the experience has strengthened my leadership skills and my ability to communicate. My Princess Graduate comes to me to discuss a lot of big decisions in her life and I want to be able to help her make informed and confident decisions.

7)      What advice would you have for anyone looking to become a mentor for the first time?

Determine expectations and needs early on. Ask questions and be actively listening. The Princess Graduate has signed up to be in the program for a reason so take the time to really get to know her and about what peaked her interest in being in the program. It helps strengthen the connection early on and establish trust.

-end interview-

Thank you, Kayla! Your reflections are so appreciated and Zoya is lucky to have you in her life (and vice versa, as we have learned).

For anyone wishing for a meaningful mentorship experience, please apply as soon as you can and we would love to match you up! 


Not every mentorship match really has to match like Kayla and Zoya, but they sure make it fun! Here is a picture of Kayla supporting Zoya at our annual BBQ where Zoya won a scholarship! Photo by Joi Photography

The Princess Shop Sponsors
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The Princess Shop
our location
12 - 1622 Ontario Avenue
Saskatoon, SK S7K 1S8
t: 306-222-3311

Karen Robson, Executive Director

Office Hours:
Mondays: 9am - 12pm, 1pm - 6pm
Tuesdays: 9am - 1pm
Thursdays: 12pm - 8pm

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